Washington, D.C. – Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today spoke on the Senate floor regarding his intention to have the Senate take action on bipartisan legislation to eliminate forced arbitration for sexual harassment and assault before the end of this week. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks, which can also be viewed here:
Before the end of this week, it is my intention to have the Senate take action on one of the most important workplace reforms that we’ve seen in in decades: eliminating forced arbitration for sexual harassment and assault.
Yesterday, I sat down with my Republican colleagues, Senators Lindsey Graham and Joni Ernst, and we worked out an agreement on a few outstanding issues that will clear the path for the Senate, we believe, to hold a vote very soon on this issue. I want to thank them for their good faith and cooperation, and I especially want to thank my friend and colleague from New York Senator Gillibrand for being the leader on this important issue for so, so long.
For decades, it has been common practice for employers to tuck arbitration clauses into the fine print of employment contracts. Today, these clauses effectively function as pre-conditions for getting hired to a new job; most workers may not even realize what they’ve signed onto until it’s too late, after the fact.
Today we can no longer ignore that forced arbitration has proven immensely harmful when it comes to sexual harassment and sexual assault. When workers—almost always women—face abuse or harassment at the hands of their employers, forced arbitration immediately limits their options for remedy. The deck is stacked against them from the start, and thus abusers rarely face true accountability. That is awful and must change.
And all of that is going to change very soon: by passing bipartisan legislation to end forced arbitration for sexual harassment and assault, we will ensure that those who face abuse will have the freedom to exercise their basic right to pursue action against harmful employers in court. This is long, long overdue and I want to commend both sides for working together to getting us close to the finish line.
I expect we will hold a vote to pass this legislation in the very near future, and the benefits of this legislation will be felt across the country and last for a very, very long time.
Bottom line, ending forced arbitration for sexual harassment and assault is about making our workplaces safer, holding abusive employers accountable, and making sure that every American can exercise their right to seek justice in a court of law.